Saturday, April 3, 2010

Final Reflection

It is that time. Time for my final reflection. Whoa, this semester has gone by so fast, and yet, so incredibly slow. Whichever it was for you, the conclusion is the same - we all have come a long way these past three months. To begin my reflection, here is a brief synopsis of my accomplishments:
  • Learning and recording C, G, D, A, Em, Am, Dm, and F chords and scales
  • The First Cut is the Deepest
  • Down By the Bay
  • Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush
  • How Much is that Doggie in the Window
  • Hokey Pokey
  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • Hush Little Baby
Links to these recordings are on the left. I have also taken the time to type out the words and chords for these songs on Google Documents. Here are the links: The First Cut is the Deepest; Down By the Bay; Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush; How Much is that Doggie in the Window; Hokey Pokey; If You're Happy and You Know It; Hush Little Baby; Colours of the Wind.

I have also been working hard on Colours of the Wind for my final exam/performance on April 12th. This is by far the most difficult piece I've attempted this semester, so I probably will not post a recording of this song until I've sorted out a few more bumps in my playing - but it will be here soon!
Besides tangible, recordable proof of my progress, I have learned many other about learning guitar for beginners. First of all, the wealth of information is overwhelming. I immediately ruled out practical lessons because of the expense. Instead, I borrowed the book "Teach Yourself Guitar" by Nick Freeth from my sister who made an attempt to learn guitar a couple years ago. This did not work because it began using guitar lingo on the very first page. Instead of being able to learn where to place my fingers for a G chord on page two, I could only think "What the heck is a fret?" Perhaps other books are better suited for new players, but expense limited me to borrowed or free resources. Speaking of free resources, there is always The Internet. There are thousands upon thousands of tutorials online: free, paid, videos, written, anything you could ask for it's there. Unfortunately, instead of being wonderful in it's abundance of information, it is overwhelming. So many YouTube videos are made by random people who decided they knew the best way to teach a song, it is extremely difficult to sort through them and choose.

So, the question remains, what resources did I use to learn guitar?
  1. I faithfully attended every guitar jam session with Denise all semester. This was helpful in several ways. First, identifying with other student's struggles and measuring my skills against theirs was both humbling and encouraging. Denise herself was a great for asking questions, getting face-to-face advice on problems, and gathering resources to give to future students (even if I honestly didn't use any of them except "First Cut is the Deepest"). Another reason I am glad I attended these lessons is that it provided me with a general knowledge base of picking and slap strumming - objectives for other students that did not originally apply to me. However, I ended up meddling in both of these techniques through the songs "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Hush Little Baby", something I would not have done without these lessons.
  2. My critical friend Colter Hahn and I only met twice throughout the semester because of our crazy clashing schedules. However, he provided me with two insurmountable things for my success: the motivation I needed early February to actually get a start on things, and the piece "Colours of the Wind" which has become my final goal for the semester.
  3. I did use the Internet, but only when I knew exactly what I was looking for. This was often still frustrating, but I eventually found what I needed. A prime example was chords for children's songs. I found the ones I used from Storytime Songs, but that wasn't even enough. I had to ask Denise for advice on what kids of strum patterns to use for several of the songs since the survival pattern is not the be all end all.
Overall, the entire experience went much better than I expected. I was apprehensive from the start, never having played a string instrument and not particularly eager to try. I quit piano lessons my first year of university, unable to find the time and motivation to practice every week - in my eyes, I didn't fair much better with the guitar. It was true in the beginning: My apprehension got in the way of progress until I discovered Colter as a critical friend, and the need to progress between sessions with him gave me a kick-start. In the end, my original goal of learning scales, chords and a couple children's songs has been accomplished and surpassed: I've learned many children's songs, have learned many strum patterns including the slap-strum, and have even begun some picking.

I am very glad I chose blogging to document my guitar experience. This method kept me honest, as the dates of posts show up and there is no way to change them -- therefore I had to complete my goals every week and not put them off and record them all at once. This became easier each week and although I thought I may have received some feedback from other students who were blogging or people who have my URL, I still think blogging was the best method of documentation for me.

I have no immediate plans to continue the guitar, one big reason being that I cannot afford the purchase of one at the moment and Cadence will be returned to Denise on April 12. However, many of my friends own guitars and I will be able to pick it up an pick out a couple songs with them. I feel confident that I will return to the guitar in later years when I hopefully become the music teacher I aim to be.

This has been a valuable experience if I ever choose to teach guitar in the classroom. I can give them resources, advice, and warnings with first-hand experience and passion. I can show them this blog and others (Elora, Alej and Sarah) to show proof of different approaches and goals to learning guitar. I can abate the fear of being overwhelmed by information by guiding them to more specific resources depending on their goals.

Hush Little Baby

This was my first attempt at picking. I used this string pattern: 5, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3. I need a little more practice so there are pauses between chords but I wanted to post a recording before my reflection. It's a really beautiful picked in this simple manner, making it one of my favourites this semester.

EDIT: I accidentally originally posted a recording where I sneeze at the very end... my bad. This is a different, less-embarrassing version and I hope no one saw the other one haha

If You're Happy and You Know It

I used the slap strum pattern learned in class: down, up, slap, up

Hokey Pokey

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chord Pictures

Here is a slideshow of the chords I've used most often this semester. I decided to put them in this format as to not take up great amounts of space in my blog. If it is moving too slowly, just click on it and it will flip to the next image.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Much is that Doggie in the Window

Guest Artist = my mom ;)

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

I didn't mean to look so unamused at the beginning lol